05 June 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – NIGERIA’s participation at the yearly Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston Texas, USA, has often been criticised as more of a jamboree for the Nigerian contingent than boosting business development for the participating companies.
This is because the Nigerian stand usually witnessed the highest number of delegates. Aside from the companies that take stands at the conference, Nigerian contingent usually included sundry participants, who really do not have any business being at the conference.
Founded in 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference is the world’s foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production and environmental protection.
The top notch conference hosted to showcase technological breakthroughs in oil and gas exploration and exploitation, is also an opportunity for the organisers to reward individuals, companies and academic researches into these breakthroughs.
This year’s conference was no different as, according to the organisers, there were “13 technologies winning OTC Spotlight on New Technology awards. The recipients were recognised for their innovation in allowing the industry to produce offshore resources.”
But for many of the Nigerian participants, you find some companies solely operating in the downstream at such events. You also find representatives of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs, who have no affiliations with the petroleum industry also attending.
Moreover, you find a deluge of Nigerian lawmakers representing various committees outside oil and gas at the National Assembly, all of which make many analysts describe Nigeria’s participation s more of a jamboree.
However, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, defended that tremendous development have been made by indigenous companies on account of their participation in the conference.
She told journalists on the sidelines of the conference, which ended last month that judging from the rapid development in the industry, she envisioned an industrial breakthrough in Nigeria.
“I can only imagine what will happen in the oil and gas industry over the next three years, if we will continue to do what we are doing, and if you continue to the frontiers that you are moving at this time,” she said.
Positive impactAgreeing with the minister, some of the companies that spoke to Sweetcrude at the end of the conference said they have derived some appreciable benefits from participating in the conference.
The Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, which is the coordinator of Nigeria and Nigerians participation to the conference, said this year’s conference recorded the highest participation in terms of attendance and exhibition
The OTC organisers said this year’s conference set a new record of attendance in event history with about 2,500 companies representing 46 countries, including 200 new exhibitors.
The Publicity Secretary of PETAN, Mr. Valentine Obidi, told Sweetcrude, “This (2012 attendance) is the largest we have had. We even had to drop a number of companies because we ran out of space.”
He revealed that although there was usually a large attendance by Nigerians at the OTC, but not many companies appreciated the need to take a stand to exhibit what their companies have to offer.
He recalled that in the past the association had to offer some incentives to get some of them to take a stand. “Last year, we even dashed some companies boots to fill up the allotted space, but this year there is even no space to go round, so Nigerian companies are beginning to appreciate the need to exhibit their companies and products.”
For the General Manager, Hobak International Limited, London, Dr. Emma Okoroafor, the conference offered the opportunity to recruit Nigerians in Diaspora for its clients in Nigeria.
He said, “We attend major conferences in Europe, America, and Canada to recruit Nigerians and to export them abroad to reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
“We are here to attract Nigerians and expatriates who want to contribute to the development of the Nigerian Oil and Gs industry, because you can find quite a large number of Nigerians in these regions who want to return home, but are looking for safe landing.”
Through this medium, he said that Hobak, which has offices in Lagos, London and Houston Texas, have been able to attract Nigerians abroad to return to the country for clients like Shell, Chevron, Total, Anadarko, Addax, Schlumberger, Oando, Transocean, Afren and a host of many others.
He said that the essence of the company’s services is to promote Nigerian content development, in line with Federal Government’s vision to increase Nigerian participation in the petroleum industry.
New TechnologyFor some other companies, the OTC was an avenue to showcase their latest achievements, such as Intels, whose Commercial Manager, Mr. Sunny Ijere, said the company was on ground to showcase its prowess in making the Oil and Gas Free Zone a “one-stop technology hub in Nigeria.”
Similarly, the Customer Care Officer, GIL Automation, Mr. Wale Martins said, it was on ground to showcase its system automation in instrumentation, fire and communications and to attract some possible foreign partners.
On his part, the Business Development Manager, Oilserve Limited, Mr. Innocent Nwokolo, said the company was at the OTC to demonstrate its capacity in pipelines and logistics.
Going forward, Obidi noted that the key in attending the OTC or any other international conference is in the ability to exhibit the companies’ capacities in their respective areas of specilisation, as this was the only way to attract international technical partnerships that Nigerian companies required.